TinMan

I Find the Argument for Hell Only Satisfactory Prima Facie

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Likely anyone reading this knows the typical argument in favor of God sending people to hell. I will give a quick rundown in case it has been awhile:

 

God does NOT send people to hell. People send themselves because they choose to disobey God and live life how they choose, that is, they are their own god. God does not make anyone go to hell but lets them freely choose who will they serve. In the end, those who chose to disobey God end up in hell as a natural consequence of their decisions where they will be tormented by the devil and his minions for eternity. Moreover, hell was not created for humans, but for the devil and his followers.

 

In the end, the argument is weaved in such a way to exonerate God of any wrongdoing or being morally culpable of the fact people are being punished forever.

 

I have not posted here much and none of you know me, but I will share something with you. Over the years, I have thought about these issues, and when I say I thought about them, I mean I have really been through them over and over....to the point where you could say I obsess over it. I mention this because I do not want anyone to draw the conclusion I have only considered this halfheartedly.

 

First let us consider the idea that God does not send anyone to hell. This is outlandish. All of these people derive their idea of God from the Bible and it clearly states God is going to judge everyone (sheep and the goats) and when that is over, some will go to paradise and the others to the lake of fire. The idea that God is passive in this whole process is an absurdity and flies in the face of the text.

 

Free will. Everyone seems to grasp on to this when attempting to exonerate God in the process of going to hell. I am not sure if these are people who do not know what the Bible actually says or if they just choose to ignore it. When you really consider it, if God is sovereign, then he created free will. Not only that, he created free will knowing the consequences it would have. He actually planted a tree in the garden of Eden knowing exactly what was going to happen. I will concede to free will to some extent, but not to the extent the average Christian would have you believe. The Bible states over and over God is in control and sanctions everything that happens in one way or another, either actively or passively (recall what Jesus said regarding the sparrows). In the end, I find the free will argument to be lacking because in all reality, it is a shame. What is the point of free will if God actually gave it to you just so you could give it right back and live in complete submission to his will. Would it not make more sense for God just to create us to behave exactly how he wanted us to? It would cut a lot of the heartache out on both ends.

 

God gives everyone a choice. This to me does not really make sense. Most people have no idea what Christianity is or anything about the Christian God. Even those of us in the church have heard conflicting views on who God is and what he wants. I would only accept this argument as valid if God personally revealed himself to everyone, and personally told them exactly what was expected. Now that is a choice, a fully informed choice at that.

 

What about the idea that Satan and his minions are somehow running hell and have authority to torment humans forever? Where this idea comes from, I have no idea. Consider Revelation where Satan is actually tormented himself. Not only that, it would not even make sense. A typical argument is that God is just (usually this follows after God is love. "Yes, yes, God is love, but God is also just." Sound familiar?). How would it be just to punish the rebellious humans who had far less revelation and fellowship with God over the rebellious angels who were actually with God and knew exactly what to believe and what to do. That is not just, in any sense of the word. People who bring this up in their talk on hell confound me and it tells me they have not through this through.

 

Lastly, the argument that hell was not created for humans is another ridiculous statement. If God is omnipotent and knows everything that will take place, then he knew humans were going to hell and in some sense, created hell for humans. If not, then God did not know humans were going to hell and would imply he is not omnipotent. Now if that is true, then we have a very different argument.

 

Matter of fact, if God does not know the future and there is something to open theism, I would have a very different take on the Christian idea of God and would cut a lot of slack where I am now skeptical. But I am not aware of any churches that would agree to this idea.

 

 

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Last year my husband had a mental breakdown, initially triggered by work stress. He then became paranoid that god was punishing him and that he would be going to hell. This led to his psychosis and ultimately made me question the hell doctrine (and Xtianity as a whole).

 

I wish at the time I could have read to him your logical arguments against the existence of hell. It may have saved much heartache.

 

I am currently researching the history of the hell doctrine. I have read that it was largely created long after the death of jebus. Do you know where I can read more about this?

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I have to be frank, regarding whether or not there is a hell, I cannot help with that. I was more or less stating that the idea God is somehow not directly responsible for people going to hell is absolutely bogus.

 

I will say this, my first steps out of Christianity were because of the doctrine of hell. The NT teaches us to love our neighbor and do unto others as we would do unto ourselves, and it hit me that God cannot actually believe in these ethics because nothing about hell falls under either category.

 

There is a site that may help you get started. It is called Tentmaker.org. The guy who runs it thinks everyone will eventually be saved and has some different resources that may help uncover what you are looking for. 

 

Like anything else, it is difficult to really know where the whole hell idea came from. It was in Jewish thought by the time the NT was being played out. I have read a lot on the different views on hell and it's history, but nothing ever lead me to any solid conclusion on what to think about it.

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The picture that we have of hell was profoundly shaped in the Middle Ages, by the publication of Dante's Inferno. Here's one interesting BBC documentary:

 

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Welcome to Ex-c TinMan! Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you know where you are going. Looking forward to reading more. If you have a question, just reach out. Someone is here to help most of the time. So glad you joined us!

 

(hug)

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LostinParis: I hope your husband is doing better.

 

Tinman:  Great post!  Really the only feedback I would give you is consider that "free will" might not even exist.  Sure "will" exists in the sense that human brains can make choices.  But "free will" is a Christian concept that involves knowledge and information that we don't have and might not exist.  The Bible is poorly written.  There is no evidence suggesting God is real let alone what God wants.  I find Christian apologetics in general and free will in particular to be unfounded.

 

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I agree, that sort of argument is nonsense.

 

Christians do much better, in my opinion, when they insist that God is good, but not nice. The only way that I have ever been able to make Christianity make any sort of sense is by asserting that "God is good" means "good" is defined by God, not the other way around. On this view, God sends people to hell, and it is good that he does so because he is God. He is not engaging in wrongdoing, because whatever he does is good by definition. This does make a certain kind of sense. If He exists, He's God. He can do whatever He wants.

 

It all falls apart though when the Christian insists that He loves us. This view of God is definitely not nice, and Christians aren't doing themselves any favours by pretending that He is.

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55 minutes ago, disillusioned said:

I agree, that sort of argument is nonsense.

 

Christians do much better, in my opinion, when they insist that God is good, but not nice. The only way that I have ever been able to make Christianity make any sort of sense is by asserting that "God is good" means "good" is defined by God, not the other way around. On this view, God sends people to hell, and it is good that he does so because he is God. He is not engaging in wrongdoing, because whatever he does is good by definition. This does make a certain kind of sense. If He exists, He's God. He can do whatever He wants.

 

It all falls apart though when the Christian insists that He loves us. This view of God is definitely not nice, and Christians aren't doing themselves any favours by pretending that He is.

You make a great point, and I have often said it myself. God could only be good in the sense that he defines what good is no matter what he does, but then the word takes on a strict definition of good to only mean "whatever God does." That definition would be difficult for humans to pin down.

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1 minute ago, TinMan said:

You make a great point, and I have often said it myself. God could only be good in the sense that he defines what good is no matter what he does, but then the word takes on a strict definition of good to only mean "whatever God does." That definition would be difficult for humans to pin down.

 

Yes, and that's another major problem. If "good" is determined by God's will then we still need to somehow figure out what God wants. Turns out that's not so easy to do.

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Wouldn't it be nice, if in say 500 years or less, people could look back on this whole existence of hell thing, and say, what fools they were to believe that!

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Just now, TruthSeeker0 said:

Wouldn't it be nice, if in say 500 years or less, people could look back on this whole existence of hell thing, and say, what fools they were to believe that!

No kidding.

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42 minutes ago, disillusioned said:

 

Yes, and that's another major problem. If "good" is determined by God's will then we still need to somehow figure out what God wants. Turns out that's not so easy to do.

 

 

It is much easier than you think because God has made me his messenger.   And God's will is that you give money to his messenger.  And also don't believe anybody else who claims to be God's messengers because they are false and will lead you astray.  But I'm the real God's messenger because . . . reasons.

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14 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

Wouldn't it be nice, if in say 500 years or less, people could look back on this whole existence of hell thing, and say, what fools they were to believe that!

 

Here's to hoping this happens next week.

 

Well, I can HOPE, can't I? ^_^

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21 hours ago, mymistake said:

 

 

It is much easier than you think because God has made me his messenger.   And God's will is that you give money to his messenger.  And also don't believe anybody else who claims to be God's messengers because they are false and will lead you astray.  But I'm the real God's messenger because . . . reasons.

 

Thanks for clearing that up ;).

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22 hours ago, mymistake said:

It is much easier than you think because God has made me his messenger.   And God's will is that you give money to his messenger.  And also don't believe anybody else who claims to be God's messengers because they are false and will lead you astray.  But I'm the real God's messenger because . . . reasons.

 

You know its ironic and scary that this is near verbatim what my pastor used to tell the church. Probably still does but I wouldn't know would I? For some reason the congregation doesn't fill me in on the details these days :D 

 

I would add that: "But I'm the real God's messenger because . . . reasons.  god has revealed it to me and its in the bible. (Usually being the "reasons")

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On 23/01/2018 at 2:24 AM, TruthSeeker0 said:

Wouldn't it be nice, if in say 500 years or less, people could look back on this whole existence of hell thing, and say, what fools they were to believe that!

I really hope that happens.

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On 1/22/2018 at 9:24 PM, TruthSeeker0 said:

Wouldn't it be nice, if in say 500 years or less, people could look back on this whole existence of hell thing, and say, what fools they were to believe that!

I try to keep my chin up and hope that's the case.  I hope science prevails once and for all over the whole human race.  I don't see it happening though, some other faith will come in and fill the vacuum left behind from Christianity.  Unless we genetically engineer away our tendency towards religion, I see it as a recurring cancer to humanity.

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Yeah, I don't think religions are going anywhere.

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On 1/24/2018 at 5:32 PM, disillusioned said:

Yeah, I don't think religions are going anywhere.

 

They may not vanish, but I have a cautious optimism about seeing them subside and decline due to overwhelming knowledge over taking their abilities to continue deceiving at any wide spread or successful rates. The people who are dropping it are doing so because they're simply to smart to continue believing evidence nonsense. And those people seem to be increasing. This whole thread is an example. Some one started questioning everything because they're smart not to question it all. Then it continues to unravel and eventually they're immune to ever going back, if they remain intellectually honest with themselves. 

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@TinMan Thank you for the well thought out post. In general, I agree with what you're saying, but I'd like to point out that depending on how your arguments are read, they may come off as arguments against free will rather than arguments against hell. Most denominations in the US believe in free will, so you may not be aware of this, but there are also denominations that adamantly argue against free will. Calvinism, which I grew up in, is a classical argument of this. A Calvinist who reads your argument will say you are absolutely right, and that humans have no free will, and God created hell for humans to suffer in eternally for his own glory.

 

Implicit in your arguments (if I understand correctly) is, considering that the free-will concept is shaky to begin with (and often used as a way to BS an argument to obfuscate God's relationship to hell), the concept of hell becomes cruel to the point of absurd. Well, I think you're right, but keep in mind that there *are* many christians, historically and even today, that believe in exactly that level of cruelty. They see it as all the more of a reason to worship God, and to admire the enormity of his power. It has been the source of a lot of heartache in my life. If you use these arguments to these types of Christians it will backfire and may even empower their beliefs. 

 

There are many reasons to disbelieve in hell, and I noticed the arguments are all over this website and forum. I think your arguments will work on most free-will believing Christians, unless you push them off the deep end and turn them into a Calvinist. That doesn't often happen that a person takes the arguments in the extreme Calvinism/hell direction, though!

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On 1/22/2018 at 6:58 PM, mymistake said:

 

 

It is much easier than you think because God has made me his messenger.   And God's will is that you give money to his messenger.  And also don't believe anybody else who claims to be God's messengers because they are false and will lead you astray.  But I'm the real God's messenger because . . . reasons.

     I like your reasons.  Where do I send the check?

 

          mwc

 

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The truth is outside of the Christian theological framework there isn't any purpose for an everlasting hell.  Can anyone who considers themself intellectually honest come up with a reason why it's necessary?  It is only necessary to scare everyone into becoming Christian so priests and pastors can make money IMHO.  Punishments are for corrective purposes.  There is no real reason for an infinite punishment.  

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22 minutes ago, ToddJ said:

The truth is outside of the Christian theological framework there isn't any purpose for an everlasting hell.  Can anyone who considers themself intellectually honest come up with a reason why it's necessary?  It is only necessary to scare everyone into becoming Christian so priests and pastors can make money IMHO.  Punishments are for corrective purposes.  There is no real reason for an infinite punishment.  

 

God created a place of everlasting torment and agony because he loves us ... this is what an infinitely advanced being would do, of course: Be infinitely vindictive because you didn't love him. /s

 

Yes, like you said, the money flows because of fear.

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On 2/14/2018 at 2:40 AM, DestinyTurtle said:

@TinMan Thank you for the well thought out post. In general, I agree with what you're saying, but I'd like to point out that depending on how your arguments are read, they may come off as arguments against free will rather than arguments against hell. Most denominations in the US believe in free will, so you may not be aware of this, but there are also denominations that adamantly argue against free will. Calvinism, which I grew up in, is a classical argument of this. A Calvinist who reads your argument will say you are absolutely right, and that humans have no free will, and God created hell for humans to suffer in eternally for his own glory.

 

Implicit in your arguments (if I understand correctly) is, considering that the free-will concept is shaky to begin with (and often used as a way to BS an argument to obfuscate God's relationship to hell), the concept of hell becomes cruel to the point of absurd. Well, I think you're right, but keep in mind that there *are* many christians, historically and even today, that believe in exactly that level of cruelty. They see it as all the more of a reason to worship God, and to admire the enormity of his power. It has been the source of a lot of heartache in my life. If you use these arguments to these types of Christians it will backfire and may even empower their beliefs. 

 

There are many reasons to disbelieve in hell, and I noticed the arguments are all over this website and forum. I think your arguments will work on most free-will believing Christians, unless you push them off the deep end and turn them into a Calvinist. That doesn't often happen that a person takes the arguments in the extreme Calvinism/hell direction, though!

I used to be a Calvinist as well. In general, this thought process was not for that crowd, they relish in the idea that God is firing people into hell. When I wrote it, I was thinking of those who fire back with the free will response.

 

Here is what I would put to Calvinist...how do you know? How do you know you are not destined for hell yourself, if indeed it exist. It is impossible to know where you stand with God. If we grant Christianity true for the sake of the argument, nobody could ever know. It comes down to wishful thinking they interpreted (or rather Augustine) the Bible correctly and that God has indeed chose them. After a bit, I found Perseverance of the Saints untenable, that was the downfall to it all. Truth be told, the stress of never knowing if I was believing the right things, doing the right things and so on is what eventually lead to me leaving the church. I just could not take it anymore.

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8 hours ago, TinMan said:

I used to be a Calvinist as well. In general, this thought process was not for that crowd, they relish in the idea that God is firing people into hell. When I wrote it, I was thinking of those who fire back with the free will response.

 

Here is what I would put to Calvinist...how do you know? How do you know you are not destined for hell yourself, if indeed it exist. It is impossible to know where you stand with God. If we grant Christianity true for the sake of the argument, nobody could ever know. It comes down to wishful thinking they interpreted (or rather Augustine) the Bible correctly and that God has indeed chose them. After a bit, I found Perseverance of the Saints untenable, that was the downfall to it all. Truth be told, the stress of never knowing if I was believing the right things, doing the right things and so on is what eventually lead to me leaving the church. I just could not take it anymore.

 

Ah. You're already well aware of what I was saying, then.

 

Even within the framework of Calvinism you're not supposed to be able to tell for sure who is elect and who is not, which basically means for practical purposes the distinguishment of the elect from the non-elect is pointless (which begs the question, why even bother to distinguish them?). In practice, though, I've noticed that Calvinists utilize the convenient rhetoric to heavily imply, if not downright say, that they know they are elect, and then to brandish the judgement of others as non-elect as a weapon. Also, a good thing to point out when you meet a Calvinist : Why is it that when Christians distinguish two classes of Christians (real/fake, elect/nonelect) they always end up putting themselves in the group on the higher pedestal? If they're a well trained Calvinist, they'll admit that one cannot know the will of God, but that you can judge whether a person is elect by their Godly actions. At that point you can point out that they've effectively reduced their theology to the same stance as Armenianism (in so much as the focus of salvation becomes about people's choices and their willpower to do so).

 

That's effectively along the lines of the argument you just made, but I thought I'd put in in my own words so as to exchange notes. High five from a fellow Calvinist survivor! 

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